This Tweet Has Been Approved By… Political Ads Hit Twitter

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We’re just about a year away from the next Presidential election. That means one thing: campaign ads. A shit ton of them. Everywhere.

And that includes Twitter.

Yes, the old: “This message has been approved by….” is coming to Twitter starting today. Mitt Romney’s campaign is the first to buy one. While they are still technically a part of the Promoted Products suite, Twitter is rolling out small UI changes to distinguish political ads from regular ones, they say. And yes, the FEC disclaimers will be a included in the hover overlay.

This project is being led by Twitter’s Peter Greenberger, a guy they just hired who previously ran political sales for Google. With campaigns looking to spend more online than ever before, this is a smart move by Twitter. And as we get closer to the election, Twitter will undoubtedly play a key role in the political discourse. Of course, both that and the ads will likely piss plenty of users off as well.

I’ve asked Twitter who will see these political ads — everyone, or just those following candidates (or those tweeting political things)? I’ll update when I hear back.

Update from Twitter: They’ll function exactly as existing Promoted Products do. The only difference is that political advertising will have a special icon to help users distinguish between political ads & normal promoted stuff, and when people hover over those ads, we will display a pop-up disclaimer identifying who paid for the ad.

  • Promoted Tweets will appear in search and can also be targeted to followers (we’re not testing political ads in the timeline at this time)
  • Promoted Account recommendations will appear on the right side of the Twitter.com interface in the “Who to follow” module
  • Promoted Trends will appear at the top of the list of Trends.

The key is that they’re not testing these ads in the main timeline at this time. That will be welcomed news for many. Though I imagine that may change as the ads take off.

More from Twitter:

  • Starting today, Twitter has begun to accept political advertising. Effective immediately, candidates and their political committees will be able to purchase Twitter’s full suite of Promoted Products, including Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends.
  • We’re piloting the program with a small group of presidential candidates and national party committees. These partners will be running ads in the coming week. We will expand the pilot to include other candidates and committees as we build up our political sales team.
  • In support of this strategy, Peter Greenberger is joining Twitter as a sales director, heading up our political sales efforts. Peter is an innovator and veteran in the market for online political advertising. He joins Twitter after 4 years with Google, where he built and managed the company’s first political sales team and managed the company’s work with electoral campaigns, committees, and issue advocacy groups. Peter’s contacts and expertise will be extremely valuable assets for Twitter as we grow this part of our business. He will be based in Washington, D.C., where he will build and oversee a dedicated political sales team.
  • We’re launching two small UI tweaks to make it easy for people to distinguish political advertising from other advertising on Twitter. First, we’re launching a new purple “Promoted” icon that will be used to identify political advertising on Twitter. Second, we’re adding the ability for campaigns who advertise on Twitter to include a full, FEC-compliant disclaimer when users hover over their Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends or Promoted Accounts.
  • Today’s news is a natural extension of the role Twitter is already playing in the political world. Twitter has become a more mainstream presence in politics, both domestically and around the world.